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Oh go on, please talk to us about runaway kids: Aviva will donate £2 to the charity Railway Children for every post!

(231 Posts)
FrancesMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Oct-12 15:35:44

Did you know that it's thought that one child runs away from home or care every five minutes in the UK?

To help raise awareness, the charity Railway Children is working with Aviva to provide help and support to children who have run away from home, or are at risk of doing so.

They've also helped us to build some pages on why children run away and how to spot the warning signs.

What they would like now is to hear your thoughts. Do you have any experiences to share - either as a parent or maybe from your memories as a child? Do you have any thoughts on the issue in general - about public awareness and support for the work of the Railway Children, for example? Do you think most parents just assume this isn't a problem they'll likely have to deal with?

Do please come and add your thoughts here. For every contribution to the discussion, Aviva will donate £2 to the Railway Children. You can post a maximum of 3 times per thread.

Aviva will donate up to £100,000 between now and the end of 2012 as part of the Mumsnet campaign, and there's a few other ways you can donate more money.

(SURVEY NOW CLOSED) They'll also donate £2 for every person that completes this survey. Everyone who takes part and adds their details at the end will also be entered into a prize draw to win VIP rugby tickets (for a family of 4) to attend the Aviva Premiership Final in May at Twickenham, courtesy of Aviva (these can be passed on to family or friends if you win but are unable to attend).

And £2 for everyone who 'likes' and recommends this thread on Facebook (by clicking 'Recommend' at the top) and if you 'like' any of the articles here.

Do please join in and help that money stack up!

VintageEbonyGuitar Thu 04-Oct-12 19:02:35

Ooo does it give double money for double posts doubts it

As a homeless 15yo though, I was the only idiot sleeping in alleyways, dodging the public toilet attendant to wash and going into school for a time.

MonsterBookOfTysons Thu 04-Oct-12 19:19:36

I ran away when I was younger, about 7 years old because I had to cycle home whilst the rest of my family were driven back by my grandad, I felt so silly as they drove at 5mph next to me that I buggared off.
I also had a plan of running away when I was a teen due to abuse issues but didnt carry them out, but did get kicked out of home at 16, my mum told me she wanted me to be gone when she got back from work. I went to my boyfriends, now my lovely dh grin
She still says she didnt kick me out, but I will never forget her words.
So I guess to her I ran away as she changed the past. hmm

gazzalw Thu 04-Oct-12 19:40:38

I feel very sad to hear these testimonials from Mumsnetters who have experienced running away.....sad. But good to hear that you made it to adulthood....some obviously don't ....

hermioneweasley Thu 04-Oct-12 19:49:53

I think it's worrying that there's no safety net for runaway kids.

Thinkability Thu 04-Oct-12 20:26:50

I'm aware of 'Rerun' in North Dorset and they help with mediation between kids and parents. The school counsellor at the high school helped when my friends daughter had stayed away from home and was threatening to go off again.

I think there are more people to help and understand these days but budgets are limited.

Thanks Aviva

Offred Thu 04-Oct-12 20:52:45

I ran away a lot as teen. I was very unhappy and there were a lot of long standing issues coming to a head with my parents. I worry about my 7 year old who is having some difficult emotional issues at the moment and often says he will leave but when I have spoken to him he says he doesn't mean it, he is just trying to tell me how bad he feels. I hope he won't be a teen runaway. I've tried hard to avoid the mistakes my parents made.

mrscumberbatch Fri 05-Oct-12 00:15:27

I'm not sure that Railway Children are as well known an organisation as they deserve to be.

The only experience I have had of runaway teens was a classmate going missing at high school. Turns out he was being beaten by his stepfather who had stolen his only shoes so that he couldn't run away. But he did, barefoot, for miles.

He has a great life now but so so difficult as a teen. If charities like this were more prevalent then it might have helped somewhat.

gazzalw Fri 05-Oct-12 08:07:38

I'd never heard of Railway Children (except in the context of the film/book of that name) charity before this thread was posted up so it's not really 'out there'

lockitt Fri 05-Oct-12 09:35:51

My guardians split up when I was around 13, I was left with my 'father' who took it quite badly and began drinking and taking it out on me physically as he was scared his other son and daughter would leave to go with their mum. I had to walk around on egg shells as if I even as much shut the door too hard or soft he would kick off.

He once kicked me out over the school holidays at 14 so I went to stay at a friends (her mum knew what was going on but nobody really stepped in) After 2 weeks, the police came to pick me up and told me I had been a very silly girl for running away! Then they asked if he had hit me, they told me if he had, I would be taken into care. I replied "what a choice, I will wait until I am 16 thank you and move out on my own"

At 15 just a few months before my GCSEs, he kicked me out again as I was half an hour late back from my waitressing job (that I had to take as I dare not even ask for money for sanitary products!) as a table were taking their time leaving and I had to wait for them to clean up afterwards. This time he was really violent and kicked me down the stairs and destroyed all of my GCSE art course work. I managed to get to a phone and call my grandma who came to pick me up from 15 miles away.

He tried to get me to come home but I refused and got my own place as soon as I turned 16. I stayed on the floor at my lovely grandma's and travelled for 3 hours everyday to school to complete my GCSEs.

It's funny looking back as my teachers knew what was going, especially as I once came to school with a black eye and broke down begging when they caught me smoking not to tell my dad (they didnt!) I think because I lived in a nice middle class area in a 4 bed house, people turned a blind eye. As I got older I learnt that people were referred to social workers for a lot less than I went through!

In the end I was lucky and a hardworking ethic meant I wasnt phased by working 3 or 4 different jobs to support myself and get through college and uni. My first 3 years of living alone I didnt even have a fridge or washing machine so it has made me more appreciative of things especially as I have had to work really really hard for every thing I have.

This is a great campaign to get people talking about this and raising awareness and hopefully it will filter to young people who need the Railway Children's support this winter.

WowOoo Fri 05-Oct-12 09:47:42

I remember a boy in school repeatedly ran away from home.

There were lots of issues. But I remember being most shocked as our school said they'd have to expel him as he was absent from school so much and also because he claimed to have left home and did not have a permanent address.
As far as I can recall they used to take him home and then he'd leave. Anything to get away from his step father. He's spend the nights on people's sofas and also slept rough when no where else to go.

He was 17. I can't believe they (school and social services) didn't support him more. I really hope that things have changed for the better. This was in the early 80's.

TroublesomeEx Fri 05-Oct-12 10:33:02

I didn't run away but I fantasized about it several times.

I was an incredibly unhappy child - of the 'Stately Homes' variety rather than the obvious abuse variety.

My confidence and self worth were undermined to the extent that I didn't really believe I'd be able to run away successfully so I just made myself as small and insignificant as possible in the hope I'd be ignored.

I sent out some fairly major signals at school that all was not well but in those days I don't think teachers were as aware.

There needs to be more support all round to understand what children are going through at home, and to identify the risks and put support in place before they reach crisis point.

Kendodd Fri 05-Oct-12 11:34:11

I ran away from home just days after my sixteenth birthday, I had waited until sixteen because I knew I'd have more rights by then and couldn't just be bought back against my will so easily. The wait until sixteen was agonizing, the worse time of my life, I was so unhappy I felt almost suicidal, the only thing that gave me hope was the light at the end of the tunnel which was my sixteenth birthday, I couldn't have waited until eighteen.

Running away was the best decision I ever made and I have never regretted it for a single second. I'm sorry my parents suffered from not knowing where I was for a time but they wouldn't let me go willingly so I had no choice but to run away. I do realize that I was lucky though that nothing bad happened to me, beyond being homeless for some time. I'm also thankful that I was able to get some state benefits to feed myself with, I'm not sure it would be so easy these days. I got a job in a bakery (hundreds of miles away from my parents) and remember thinking how unfair it was that I was paid about half of what the adults were paid for doing exactly the same job even though the other women who worked there just worked part time for a bit of extra money while I had rent and bills to pay. I think I lived on free buns from the bakery because I couldn't afford to by food!

I'm 43 now and since running away from home I've had a great life.

popsnsqeeze Fri 05-Oct-12 14:24:10

I threatened to run away from my (I though) quite strict parents. I never did and I'm extremely grateful that my reasons to leave were more to do with teenage angst than the very real abuse etc mentioned on this thread.

Lua Fri 05-Oct-12 15:19:15

It is very scary to think about it. I had a rebel streak when I was young, and I can see it in my dd as she gets closer to teen years. If I am hones, i had a pampered life and am not sure why I ever considered. Pampered enough that I never did it. But doe sthis stop everyone else? It would be good to have more info about what motivates it, and how to keep an open dialogue.

Any posters have gone through it, and can share their toughts and motivations

DutchOma Fri 05-Oct-12 16:26:10

Our dd ran away from home several times from the age of not quite 16 till she was about 19.
Still can't figure out quite why, she said she had no 'privacy', maybe she was right, I don't know.
We are on good terms now, mostly...

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 05-Oct-12 16:26:43

Hello. Thanks so much for all your posts so far.

Aviva/Railway Children have asked us to come back with some info in relation to the points raised by gazzalw earlier in the thread.

You can find detail on the characteristics of runaways and the geographical variations in their hometowns in The Children's Society 2011 report, Still Running 3.

And you can read a report about the Railway Children's research into the situations experienced by children who'd been living on the streets for four weeks or longer.

Hope that's helpful smile

gazzalw Fri 05-Oct-12 16:31:55


quoteunquote Fri 05-Oct-12 19:18:53

All runaways need a safe destination, somewhere they can reassess their options.

You get a lot of runaways turning up on (new age) traveler site, they are always fed and supported, you would be very surprised at how many of the community originate out of the care system, or from foul homes, it's one of the reason it is such a strong community, because of personal history they have created a supported family.

some of the stories of friends who have been through this are horrific,

It annoys me when I hear out and out hatred for the travelling community, when if you analysed who makes up the community, it is full of ex care children, runaways, ex squaddies, who have failed to cope with life after army, often gone straight from care into the army, a very tolerant community to others in need.

It's amazing how many people slip through the net, I have several friends, who were never looked for, despite running at an early age, no one has ever missed that left their families,

We are at the end of the festival season, there will be teens who have gone through the summer by working the festivals, now wondering how to survive, with the new squatting laws those options this winter are far more limited.

VintageEbonyGuitar Fri 05-Oct-12 22:37:37

Can I just be an axe grinding keyboard terrorist for a wee mo?

1). Slight discrepencies in dates on the railway children website. What year was it actually founded as there are two different years stated I'm pathetic I know

2). The statement "The reality is that many of the children who go to the project had first chosen to sleep rough rather than access statutory services" is just ever so slightly a lot patronising to the children who most probably did try to source help before they ran away.

Loopy4got Sun 07-Oct-12 08:32:19

Survey completed. Would be devasted if this were ever to happen. I have a pre teen and that is challenging in its own way.

Offred Sun 07-Oct-12 12:15:00

I don't know vintage. I never tried to source help because I actually genuinely didn't know there was any nevermind knowing where I might go to get it. I only discovered benefits existed at age 19 after being homeless for over a year and not living at home for any significant period in 3 years.

Offred Sun 07-Oct-12 12:19:09

I tried to call childline a few times when I was 12 but it was busy and I never called again. Apart from that school I suppose I tried to get help from but they didn't help and only made things worse and college just kicked me out because of their stats without giving me any help. The GP was not helpful either - this was all before I left/was kicked out. After I had run away I didn't consider that there might be help available and I doubt I would have taken it because I think they would have tried to make me go back home.

VintageAxeWeldingPboredWarrior Sun 07-Oct-12 13:07:57

Have nc'd

My 1st school were aware of issues, I was hospitalised for attempted suicide and had to attend councelling, I also contacted childline and got through but only managed to cry so the operater presumed I was messing around and hung up after telling me off

The police picked me up twice, first time they took me home, second time they let me sleep in the sargents office

Ss only got involved after I was 15 and 2nd school had started feeding me. I had learnt no one would help by then feral

Doyouthinktheysaurus Sun 07-Oct-12 13:34:48

Some very sad stories on here.

I work as a Mental Health Nurse and have heard so many sad stories of troubled and abusive upbringings, running away, sleeping rough, parents that didn't care. It can be so damaging and have a life long impact on people's mental health.

I think running away from home, even if they return safe and well is a huge red flag and should be followed up in terms of offering emotional support and guidance.

I never ran away but I had a pretty unhappy childhood (nothing specific)and left as soon as the opportunity arose. Best decision I ever made. I really hope I am a better parent and my own children don't ever feel pushed to the point of running away or desperate to leave home.

Dawndonna Sun 07-Oct-12 16:04:42

I ran away from home loads as a child. Wish someone nice had found me a nice place to live.

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